NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Despite the NFL’s general manager subcommittee recommendation to delay the NFL Draft, the league’s commissioner Roger Goodell decided to keep the same date.
Although the month of March seemingly lasted around twenty to thirty years, the opening night of the draft on April 23rd will be here before we know it. Before that day comes, teams will have prepared their draft boards without in-person visits, medical examinations or Pro Days, just to name a few.
The league also canceled the big draft party show on the Las Vegas strip and opted for a throwback televised draft, and relying heavily on technology and inside looks into a prospect’s home when the phone rings. Despite all the hurdles teams, players and the NFL as a whole have had to jump over to make informed decisions on draft day, the event will happen as scheduled. That causes some problems. A lot of problems.
Namely, because of social distancing regulations, teams can’t possibly justify a packed “war room” at the facility’s home base on draft day. What is typically a chaotic and spirited secret spot will now look like an exclusive Zoom call with team decision-makers battling children and pets in the background while using an Excel spreadsheet to make million dollar decisions. The hectic and stressful nature of a war room will still apply, but instead of battling personalities and differing of opinions, the biggest battle will be with technology.
“There’s just something to human-to-human face to face interaction, it just can’t be duplicated,” said ESPN.com NFL Nation Titans reporter Turron Davenport. “So it’s just one of those things where they’re just going to have to really go off of feel.”
Feel is hard to well, feel, over video chat, but teams who have continuity and have worked together for years will have an advantage.
“Those organizations that have the personnel in place that have been together for a bit more time will actually be more successful just because of being able to know each other a bit better, and to have that familiarity with what each other likes,” said Davenport.
The Titans, he went on to day, are one of those teams with an advantage of familiarity.
We won’t know until years later how much of an impact – if any – the regulations and social distancing guidelines had on the 2020 NFL Draft, but we already know it will be a challenge.